June 15th, 2024

To Your Health: Consider adding lentils to your diet

By Gillian Slade on June 18, 2018.

Most of us already know and understand the importance of reducing the quantity of white carbohydrates in our diets.

We know to reduce potatoes, white rice, white bread and so on but it is often difficult to find a substitute that we really enjoy.

I have written before of eating barley instead and now there is some exciting Canadian research about the benefits of lentils.

Lentils can assist in reducing high blood pressure, reducing blood glucose levels and promoting digestion.

With the rise of Type 2 diabetes reducing your blood sugar levels is important. Lentils are high in fibre and can reduce cholesterol levels too.

If you are not a vegetarian you may not be familiar with cooking lentils and incorporating them into your diet. By the way, you don’t have to be a vegetarian to enjoy lentils. You could try mixing half your normal serving of mashed potatoes with lentils instead until you start to enjoy lentils on their own.

Lentils come in several colours. If you are going to enjoy them on their own, rather than combined with rice or potatoes, try adding curry and/or turmeric to the liquid for an excellent flavour and colour. Lentils are ideal incorporated in soups and salads too.

A study at the University of Guelph found that even replacing half a serving of a white starch, such as rice or potatoes, with lentils can result in a 20- per-cent reduction in blood sugar levels.

The study was a small one involving 24 health adults. They ate either white rice, potatoes or a mixture of either of those with half the amount substituted with lentils. The blood sugar levels of the participants were measured before a meal and a couple hours afterwards. Those who had substituted half with lentils had up to 20-per-cent lower blood sugar levels than the others.

In a different study by the University of Manitoba, lentils were found to play a part in reversing declines in blood vessel health.

To cook lentils on the stovetop, plan on three cups of water to one cup of dry lentils. If you want only a small quantity use a third of a cup of lentils to one cup liquid. You could use plain water or a vegetable or chicken stock. Simmer with the lid on the saucepan and it will take 15 to 20 minutes to be cooked.

There are all sorts of ways to enhance the flavour of lentils with peppers, onion and garlic, salt and pepper. There are numerous recipes available online.

Here’s to cutting our carbohydrate intake and eating a healthy diet, and here’s To Your Health.

To Your Health is a weekly column by Gillian Slade, health reporter for the News, bringing you news on health issues and research from around the world. You can reach her at gslade@medicinehatnews.com or 403-528-8635.

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